Heat: The Ultimate Cops & Robbers Film

Rewatching Heat tonight on DVD (as I type, even). What a great film. The music direction could’ve used a bit of help, but other than that it’s a genre masterpiece. After this, all Cops & Robbers caper movies are just shadows on the cave wall. Heat is basically Micheal Mann saying, “Alright, I’m going to do this right once and for all so everyone else can stop not getting it right.”

It’s a very male film. There’s a lot of brothers-in-arms kind of stuff that I know Alisa started to practically giggle at. However, it’s a great piece of work, with a strong multi-threaded plot, solid acting, and very cool action pieces. There’s a very brusque, professional feel to the sequences, but they still have an elegance to them. It’s a bit of Mamet and a bit of Woo*, without entirely being either. The gun battle in the city streets is reason enough to put the time into watching it. It even has some genuine drama and suspense that will actually put you in a state of supsense. Pretty rare these days.

Plus, Henry Rollins is in it. I mean, come on! Henry Rollins. What else do you want? Go rent it.

*It reminds me of Woo’s work because Mann builds sequences with an eye for their drama and overall movement. This isn’t a ‘ballet of bullets’ kind of film, with Woo’s obligatory doves and slow-motion-ironic-musical-choice-moments or anything.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Wow.

Kubrick’s definitely consistent with his pacing, that’s for sure. But fortunately he’s also consistent with his brilliance. It’s also fortunate that our nuclear scientists weren’t actually quite so questionable as Dr. Strangelove, in spite of the end result of their work.

Creepy synchronicity note: when we flipped over to the TV signal upon finishing the film, the first thing we saw was Thirteen Days. I’m going to go continue reading The Making of the Atomic Bomb now.

DJ Shadow, In Tune and On Time Live!

DJ Shadow, one of the best DJs on the planet, released a live DVD/CD a few days ago, called In Tune and On Time Live! I got my hands on it this week, and am wearing a groove in the CD by playing it pretty much non-stop when I’m not around Alisa.

Shadow never lets me down. Tight, brilliant DJing all done in tune and on time, while simultaneously kicking ass as a rockin’ collection of songs. The tour this performance is from is all Shadow mixing Shadow (which means album work, collaborative work, B-sides, whatever).

If you consider yourself a Shadow fan, or if you like hip-hop, turntablism, breaks, etc., don’t even consider not owning this album. It might be a bit tough to find outside of his merch site, but once they restock (after selling out immediately) you should be good to go.

EDIT: According to djshadow.com, the album is not a website exclusive. In fact, the reason it sold out so quickly is because they got relatively few copies. You can pick it up at Amazon and other big retail outfits.

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I Want to Be Gordon Freeman. Again.

In 1998, I developed an unhealthy obsession. This obsession lay dormant for a few years, having waned for a time. However, sometime last year, it came back with a vengeance. The urges and cruel patterns it now carves on my waking mind are becoming insatiable and all-consuming. I thirst for succor, for sweet, sweet release from the exquisite pain of waiting… no… needing. This need has a name. Its name is Half-Life 2.

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Let there be LIGHT!

Today I have secured my seat on the throne of manhood. As Mjolnir, the hammer of mighty Thor, was thrust into the flames at its forging, emerging stronger, I thrust my arms deep into the recesses of the machine and emerged newly wrought. Where once there was darkness and maddening chaos, there is now order and light. Let it not be said that these hands never endured the toils of labor, the soot and grime of industry, nor the weight self-determination.

I have successfully changed my turn signal.

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Party Monster

Just watched this DVD with Alisa. It was OK. Not bad, but not great. Seth Green does a great job as club kid ‘original’ James St. James (author of the novel about the events upon which the film is based). Macaulay Culkin does a passable job as club kid ‘flameout’ Michael Alig, that occasionally really works well, but usually gives the impression that he’s just trying to hang on to the external parts of his character (accent, lilt, affectations) and therefore doesn’t give a consistently compelling delivery of the actual lines (or what’s behind them).

Also, it’s pretty hard to care about characters like these, who are trying so hard to be so superficial. Granted, they’re having fun with excess in an attempt to be “fabulous” and all that, but the excess inevitably turns into destruction and betrayal. Then it becomes painfully clear they’re all assholes in that in spite of genuine longings and needs, they can’t hold together a shred of genuine anything for each other. At this point you remember they’re all based on real people, making you even more apathetic. Then you realize that the costumes are also based in reality, which makes the whole thing seem pretty damn pathetic. I mean, there’s crazy and sexy, then there’s just manifested drug-induced inhibition control problems. I’ve seen films similar to this one, and I respect the filmmakers’ abilities to keep me watching, but it only goes so far.

Let’s just call the experience a cumulative neutral and not speak of it again.

::blithely turns away and sips tea with pinky out::

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The third Harry Potter film, based on the third Harry Potter novel, is definitely the best of the series thus far. I believe it’s largely due to three factors: 1) it’s based on the best of the first three books (and one of the best thus far), 2) Alfonso Cuarón directs this time around, and 3) this is the third time these actors have done this, they frickin’ better do a good job.

On top of all this, the cast (aside from the big three) is really starting to come together. You’ve got Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, Emma Thompson, and Alan Rickman (who continues his role as Snape for the third time). I’m really, really looking forward to the next films, which will (hopefully) feature Thewlis, Oldman, and Rickman in much more prominent roles. Regardless, if you’ve even got a sliver of interest in the series, you should see it.

Cuarón takes the series out of its fun but not-so-amazing rut of friendly retelling, and pushes it into adolescence with a skillful hand, developing themes with style, and guiltlessly injecting edge into the story. If you’re not familiar with Cuarón’s work, you should watch Great Expectations for a taste of his visual style, then check out Y tu mamá también* to see what films are like in a countries not afraid of their own genitals and what they do with them.

*If you’ve seen Y tu mamá también, and you’ve got prurient mind, you’ll probably chuckle at moments like Harry playing with his wand under the sheets, pretending to be asleep when his uncle rushes in to see what’s going on. I won’t mention the other moment that Alisa noted. See if you can figure out which it was.

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Pieces of April

Just saw this film on DVD tonight with Alisa. It’s a touching, but unique story about a young woman (April) and her family, with her boyfriend Bobby as a secondary arc. The movie shows both halves of an obviously fragmented family as they journey towards Thanksgiving dinner, as hosted by the black sheep April, played by Katie Holmes, in the wilds of what I assume is NYC (don’t remember if they mention it).

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Memorial Day 2004

I’m posting late about this important day, but it shouldn’t be taken as a diminished view of those it is meant to commemorate. War is a dark and shifting mire, but the actions of scores of men and women on the field and elsewhere show that sacrifice and valor can rise to its inky surface. We must not lose the memory of these deeds and these individuals in our despair because they give hope and strength to the belief that even in our darkest times, a greater good can prevail.

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain…”

— Abraham Lincoln, 1863

Perhaps I sound a bit melodramatic, but it’s hard not to when speaking about the near-hyperbole of war.